ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Wires Vital To New Energy
Transmission: The unsung hero of the DOE grid reliability study; New and better power lines can help integrate clean energy resources, but insiders say longstanding planning issues are blocking expansion
Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 5, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Though overlooked in the new budget, transmission is key to expanding access to New Energy.
Much of the media scrutiny on the Department of Energy grid reliability study focused on its treatment of generation resources, but just as important to ensuring clean and reliable electricity supply is the grid that connects them. Annual spending on U.S. transmission is expected to peak at $22.5 billion in 2017 before declining. But increasingly, sector insiders are concerned that may not be enough to meet the needs of a changing power system. “An integrated transmission system can meet the needs and manage the changes that are out there waiting but are hard to predict,” Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chair James Hoecker recently told Utility Dive.
The DOE study also acknowledged the need for “major transmission additions to connect the remote generation to the rest of the grid and to load centers.” It recommended a review of “regulatory burdens for siting and permitting” of generation and transmission infrastructure and “actions to accelerate the process and reduce costs.” For transmission developers, that review cannot come fast enough. Annual investment in U.S. transmission was $20.1 billion in 2015 and $21.5 billion last year, according to a recent study by the Edison Electric Institute. It projected $22.5 billion in spending in 2017 and cataloged over 150 projects totaling approximately $41 billion in transmission investments through 2019. But over 24,000 miles of new transmission was built from 2012 to 2017 at a cost of $102 billion, the DOE study reported. Well-planned transmission is “critical” to reducing costly system congestion and easing local over-generation issues, DOE added… click here for more
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